As the world faces an unprecedented crisis, soldiers are stepping up to help the nation in any way they can, assisting with contact tracing, compliance checks and packing food stores. 

For Victorian-born Gunner Macauley Longhurst, helping the community is why he joined the Army. 

“It was always an aspiration of mine to be a part of the Army so that I could help out the wider community and do my fair share for the nation,” Gunner Longhurst said. 

Gunner Longhurst, from Point Cook, Melbourne, enlisted as an artillery command systems operator in 2017 and soon posted to Darwin’s 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. 

His desire to join the military was inspired by his great grandfather, who answered the call to service during WWI.

“My family still treasures the letters and photos that he sent to his parents during the Battle of the Somme,” Gunner Longhurst said. 

“Aged and dirty, the letters still hold great power to the current generations.”

These letters gave Gunner Longhurst an appreciation and understanding of what it meant to represent the nation and wear the iconic khaki fur felt slouch hat. 

“Whenever these letters had photos that showed a member of the Army, they would always be proudly wearing a slouch hat. It has become a symbol of honour, tradition and the resilience of the Australian people,” he said.

“The slouch hat has been worn by Australian soldiers through some of the toughest and nightmarish conflicts in our history.” 

“Soldiers gave their lives so that future generations could live in a world of peace and prosperity.”

Gunner Longhurst believes it is important to remember the stories of those who sacrificed their lives to serve during those conflicts. 

“By remembering, we learn from our mistakes but also honour those who didn’t get to come home,” he said.

“Soldiers gave their lives so that future generations could live in a world of peace and prosperity.”

Gunner Longhurst aspires to carry on the traditions of his predecessors by acting as a symbol of integrity and righteousness for the community. 

Each year his regiment joins the Darwin community for the Bombing of Darwin and Anzac Day commemorations by firing a 21-gun salute. 

This year, no formal services will be held, but Gunner Longhurst hopes to connect with and help the community in other ways. 

Earlier this year, his regiment worked with the Department of Health to assist COVID-19 evacuees quarantining at Christmas Island and the Top End’s Howard Springs facility. 

“Our regiment was fortunate enough to support their quarantine and do everything we could to make a difficult time more comfortable,” Gunner Longhurst said.

“I look forward to supporting the community more in this way during this difficult time.”